Vitality

The third of my small tattoos is a V for Vitality. It’s on the back of my neck – the nape. I like that word, but I digress.I desire vitality inside and out.  I want to be vibrant in mind, body and spirit. I want to be active and strong. I think this comes from a general desire to age well, to age gracefully, to age with dignity.  And that in part is because my father died of colon cancer when he was 54 and I was 24.

He was diagnosed at age 49 and died 5 years later. He went through all kinds of treatments – traditional and experimental. He fought hard. I know he was doing it for himself and for his love for me and our family. I want to live with wellness to honour him, my family and myself.

But I saw what cancer does to the body and the mind. I want to avoid it – very badly. Prevention and early screening are my tools. Not 100% guaranteed of course.

I was already a nutrition geek (had been since I was in elementary school) and fascinated by physical wellness science. Seeing my father edge then leap towards disease and decay inspired me to have a different future.

So I embrace vitality. I seek it out. I create it. I am active in my pursuit. I use all the wellness tools available to me. I focus on getting enough sleep and eating a whole foods diet. I have never smoked and I have quit drinking. I meditate and practice loving kindness and gratitude. I surround myself with people I love and that love me.

This is my path to vitality.

A Revelation

What I am about to share is a very big deal for me. It’s something I have not shared with anyone online.

Big breath. OK, here goes.

This photo isn’t an accurate representation of how I look. At least not now, in person, on a day to day basis.

seska lee headshot 2

You see, that is because in the fall of 2013 I cut off most of my hair and in the spring of 2015 I stopped dying it. And during all that time if I was to go on stage for a burlesque show or take a selfie for the Internetz I wore a wig. This is what I actually look like today.

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Let the age-ist opinions and mysoginistic judgements of strangers and trolls begin!

Why I Cut My Hair

I wanted a change. After having pretty much the same look for 16 years I felt a strong compulsion to change things up. While I was actively performing on my personal website I never changed my hairstyle very much. I always had long hair with bangs. There were many times I wanted to cut my hair, but because I didn’t want to deal with the backlash I would get from my public fanbase I didn’t. Yes, I had concerns that playing with my look would affect my bottomline. Legitimate concerns because fans and members always had an opinion about my appearance. Back then, complaints that I grew out my bangs or cut my hair was not something I felt I could handle. It was a fear thing.

When the site started to die a slow death because people stopped paying for adult content I felt a little more confident testing out a significant trim. In August of 2009 I bobbed my hair. It was about 6 months before my separation and I recognize now that it was an expression of a greater desire for change and a sign of things to come.

I did not feel good in my own skin so I got a haircut. Classic! After the separation I grew it back as I had cowlicks that made a bob impossible to keep straight, but deep down I knew another cut was in my future.

This desire, I think, was about figuring out who I was without my husband, without my website, without my objectification. I wanted to separate myself from my sex work which was a big part of my identity but no longer served me as it had. I wanted some discretion and boundaries in my life.

It took much therapy and personal development work for me to come to terms with it all. Slowly but surely I began to feel confident in claiming some privacy for myself AND recognizing that a part of me would always be up for public consumption. By that time I was ready to have the hair I wanted and I got a significant cut inspired by Michelle William’s look in the Louis Vuitton ads. This was in the fall of 2013 – a few months before I had my last drink. No coincidence, I think!

Later after performing in The Graduate in the fall of 2014 I wanted it even shorter so I went with pixie style similar to Winona Ryder circa 1997. I am told after certain roles actresses often cut their hair. I guess that makes me an actress. ;-)

So Why the Wigs?

If people meet me while I am wearing my glasses and then see me without them, they do not recognize me. Similarly, if they meet me first in person and then see my photos, they don’t recognize me in the pics. I have that kind of face, I guess. Easily altered based on a few little tricks.

So when I sought out to have more boundaries and privacy I decided to capitalize on my chameleon nature. I thought wearing wigs when I was in Seska mode (which was mostly at burlesque shows and on social media) and going without in my day to day life would help me ease myself into a more separate life.

And it worked. People didn’t recognize me. It was great. I got to have a strong sense of separation between the consumable me and the me that belongs just to myself for myself. I’m not sure if people outside of the public eye understand how precious this is. It’s been such a gift of relaxation. Most definitely something I’m glad I experienced even though it has been somewhat convoluted.

Oh, and the bonus of wearing wigs has meant saving 1-2 hours of prep time and having healthy hair once again. But that doesn’t make for such a dramatic story. ;-)

Why I Stopped Dying My Hair

I started going grey in my early twenties. At first it was just a few hairs and then by the time I was 28 I needed to get it dyed every 6 weeks if I wanted to cover it up. By 35 it was every 4 weeks. This was expensive and I felt it was adding too much to my chemical load and could be avoided. For about 2 years I chatted with my colourist about how to go grey. Finally I decided to buzz it off and just start fresh.

I ended up loving it.

Ever since I have gone short AND grey I receive daily compliments on my hair. I have a confidence I never had before and a sense of freedom from the rules of beauty that are so often imposed on us by media and the beauty industry.

So Why the Big Reveal?

I have been itching to share more of myself once again. I want to blog more. I want to document more. I want express more. I want to connect more. The wigs were an amazing protective tool when I needed them, but I do not feel I need them anymore. At least not in the same way. Now they are just getting in the way. My way.

I must say I feel quite light and free since I have decided to get this out into the open. It’s exciting.  In terms of burlesque, the wigs will remain. They are amazing elements of my acts and help me inhabit a character. I absolutely love them and could not do burlesque without them. But now you can expect many more selfies and such on Instagram. I will still post food and cat pics, but there will be more spontaneous me!

And now a little walk down memory lane of how I went from long hair to short….

Me with shortish dyed hair.

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March 2014

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Then with the dyed pixie.

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Even though I had a horrible flu I got dressed up to see a live taping of The Social.
I am such a nerd for this show!
November 2014

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Now I get to share the pic I have of me and the ladies!!!
November 2014

Then with the buzz cut. There was still a bit of dye left.

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April 2015

Finally all natural.

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July 2015

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September 2015

A big thank you to Damon and Andrea of Salon Adikt in Montreal for all the amazing times I had in the salon. Damon is a god of colour – so creative, professional and precise! And there is no one like Andrea in terms of expertise for cuts, styling and up-dos. With her years of experience, appreciation for classic styles and trends, and keen eye for detail I knew I was always in good hands for each and every look. I was with them for 9 years and I highly recommend them both!

All About Eve – Young Ladies & Old Broads

Like many of you I putter around the Internet and during my puttering I visit the celebrity gossip site Lainey Gossip. The gal who runs it is Canadian and has a voice and perspective I enjoy. It helps me feel connected to current pop culture. This desire for this connection might have to do with the main topic of this post. I feel like in my 40s I’m drowning in a sea of 20-somethings and their priorities (or those of mommies in mini-vans). I am feeling a little lost in our differences.

Recently Lainey posted two articles about comments young female artists (Lena Dunham and Nicki Minaj) made about how much respect they have for older artists in their field. Go read them before continuing.

With Lena Dunham it was the other women nominated at the Golden Globes for best female performance in a TV series  – musical or comedy: Zooey Deschanel, Tina Fey, Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Amy Poheler.  I do not think Lena was making a dig at these actresses. In all her press she has been earnest. Extremely earnest. She also has spoken about how the show and it’s acclaim has given her validation and made her feel less alone. It has me wondering how little did she think of herself before if she needed an HBO show and Golden Globes to feel good about herself and belong. Very little, I guess. Or maybe very little yet thinks of herself often.

With Nicki it seems to be very snarky. She is a part of the TV show American Idol and it’s about nasty attitudes as much as it is about music. Nah, it’s more. I assume she and Mariah Carey have been instructed to bring the diva sides of their personalities to the show. People are expecting lots of snide comments during the live show and probably hoping for a cat fight or two with fistful of extensions flying everywhere. They are both over the top in their work, their marketing and their lifestyles so it makes sense that their feud would be vain caricature as well. I wish it was for the camp effect, but I think it isn’t. It’s too mean spirited.

Now, this is younger woman versus older woman thing is nothing new. The movie All About Eve comes to my mind. Margo Channing as portrayed by Bette Davis* is an aging Broadway Star and Anne Baxter plays Eve Harrington who is a young fan that threatens her career and relationships.

I suppose it is human nature to compare and compete. We need to make judgments about things to survive. Choosing between young and old – it must be part of our reproductive and survival mechanisms. We also have this looking out for number one mentality. Personally, I wish I could live without it all. I do not like the way we manage this comparative judgement in my culture. Especially between women (and dudes, you are not off the hook here – it doesn’t happen in an XX vacuum).

My mother has told me many times that every age has its pleasures. The older I get the more I can see that. I walk down the street and see young women with worried expressions. I am sure their concerns are similar to mine at their age – worried about appearances and acceptance in an often superficial world. I remember I was pretty consumed by it. Now I feel much more free from it.

When you are a 21 year old woman you can turn most any straight man’s head – 12 to 102. This can mess with you. You get attention for your appearance and not much else. I don’t turn heads like I used to.**

My similarly aged friends and I laugh about it. We were so hard on ourselves as young women. How little did we know how our bodies would change and that those bodies at 20 that we struggled with so much (even hated) would be bodies we now admire in many ways. However, we also appreciate being able to focus on other things – like work, family, interests, creativity, organization – well, life – in ways we couldn’t when we were younger. This is more than a pleasure of being in our 40s. It’s a true release.

I think when you are a younger women and speak to an older women’s accomplishments either in an earnest or snarky way this says a lot about the insecurity of being young and figuring out your place in the world. You are used to looks being the way you are valued. You are used to being accepted based upon them as way to define your self-esteem.

As you get older you (hopefully) do not take yourself so seriously. You stop caring so much what other people think. But it’s a shame that you have to go through those early times of comparison – or perhaps it’s not so necessary. I cannot change how I behaved in the past or what my thinking was, but I can look at myself now and figure out what thoughts and actions are encouraging this young versus old and you versus me thinking and its consequences and change them.

Thinking cap on. More to come…

PS – Men are not immune to this young versus old comparison, but the older men seem to come up on top more often. Lainey  wrote a post comparing the release of new material by Justin Timberlake and David Bowie.***

* Bette Davis was 42 when she was in All About Eve. I am turning 42 this February. Coincidence? Hmmm.

** Street harassment continues. It knows no age and it is vile. See this video for some ideas on how to handle it.

*** I adore the new song.